Throughout the long — 4-5 years — debate over the Boffo/Kettle tower, the developer and its lackeys claimed that they had frequently asked the City and the Province for money for their required expansion on Commercial and that the governments had said there was no money for mental health housing.
This same myth — for such it is — was peddled by the Kettle and its developer patrons even as late as this month in the run-up to the Council’s debate on the Grandview Community Plan. Developer Daniel Boffo claimed: “the Kettle has been looking at options for government funding for over a decade with no progress and no results.” I am being polite calling that a myth, of course, because that is simply one big lie.
In the last decade, the Kettle has applied for and received government funding for mental health housing units at Taylor Manor; they have built, with government money, their new facility on Burrard Street; and yet more government money has gone into a new facility for the Kettle at 1700 Kingsway. In other words, the only Kettle project in the last decade that has not received government money is the expansion on Commercial — and the reason for that is quite obvious.
Once the Kettle had snuggled into Boffo’s queen-sized they didn’t need the City’s financial help and so never asked for it.
Of course the City was happy to go along with this charade for a number of reasons:
1) they are a developer-financed and directed-Council;
2) the City Council has zero priority for mental health (or homelessness or affordable housing) except to blame everyone else for the lack of assistance. Their priorities lie elsewhere. Getting Boffo to take over the government’s responsibility was a win in every direction for them;
3) the City has for years wanted a major tower at Venables & Commercial (see discussions with planners back in 2011)l it was in fact the City who engineered the sordid marriage between Boffo and the Kettle in the first place.
This is a precedent-setting disaster in so many ways: the tower at Commercial & Venables will be just the first of many to blight our neighbourhood over the next decade; the City will now advise NGOs to go looking for private money to do government work (destroying in its wake the very Canadian idea that health care for all is a tax-payer responsibility); years and years of planning and thinking can be overthrown by hastily written ideological amendments thrown into the heap at past the last-minute (this wasn’t the first time we had seen that); more than 4,000 residents expressing their opinion can be ignored at will.
Developers’ profits and crony politics win again — and Vancouver should be the sadder for it.